'Russia's Osama' Dead, Militants Say

Chechen rebel Doku Umarov replaced by Dagestani
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 19, 2014 12:36 AM CDT
Insurgent leader Doku Umarov speaks in a video.   (AP Photo/The Kavkaz Center, File)
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(Newser) – The Chechen rebel leader labeled "Russia's Osama" has been declared dead by authorities several times but this time looks like the real deal: A website used as a mouthpiece for Islamic militant groups in southern Russia says Doku Umarov, 49, has joined those "who fulfilled their contract with Allah till the very end," the New York Times reports. The militant site says the self-styled leader of the Caucasus Emirate has been replaced by Magomed Kebekov, a younger man from Dagestan—a shift that counterterror analysts fear could reinvigorate the rebels.

Umarov, who fought with Chechen separatists before turning to Islamic militancy, claimed responsibility for deadly attacks including the 2011 Moscow airport bombing and the 2010 Moscow subway bombings. He was also linked to last year's Volgograd bombings and to threats against the Sochi Olympics. Russian authorities did not immediately confirm the death, though Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov was quick to crow about it, Reuters reports. "Umarov was killed in a security operation, which I wrote about earlier," he said. "Now it is confirmed by the rats themselves."

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